Book Review: Again the Magic by Lisa Kleypas

674220Title: Again the Magic
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Wallflowers #0.5 (Prequel)
ISBN: 978-0380811083
Publisher: Avon
Pub. Date: February 2004
Source: Purchased
Genre: Historical Romance
Pages: 391
Rating:  5/5

From Goodreads: She gave him her innocence . . .Lady Aline Marsden was brought up for one reason: to make an advantageous marriage to a member of her own class. Instead, she willingly gave her innocence to John McKenna, a servant on her father’s estate. Their passionate transgression was unforgivable — John was sent away, and Aline was left to live in the countryside . . . an exile from London society . . .and he took her love.
Now McKenna has made his fortune, and he has returned — more boldly handsome and more mesmerizing than before. His ruthless plan is to take revenge on the woman who shattered his dreams of love. But the magic between them burns as bright as ever. And now he must decide whether to let vengeance take its toll . . . or risk everything for his first, and only, love.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  When Aline and McKenna’s feelings are discovered by her father, he threatens McKenna’s very existence if Aline ever sees him again. In order to protect him, Aline convinces McKenna that she does not love him, hoping he will never return to Stony Cross. After he leaves, Aline descends into a depression that is followed by a terrible accident that leaves Aline with scars on her legs. Twelve years later, McKenna returns to Stony Cross from America, where he became one of the nouveaux riches, to take his revenge on Aline for all the pain and heartache he caused her. Aline realizing his intentions decides to ride it out until he goes back to New York. This plan fails however when both McKenna and Aline start to fall for each other again. But Aline can never be with him, for she is not only a spinster, but also damaged.

      I don’t think I’ve ever cried, or even teared up while reading a romance novel, before reading Again the Magic. Here we have two characters who are obviously in love with each other, but refuse to acknowledge it, and instead spend almost 400 pages fighting it. The book begins with Aline and McKenna in their late teens, already in love. Life is good. Well, except for the fact that Aline is the daughter of the cold and malevolent Lord Westcliff, and that McKenna is only a footman. After years of resenting, no that is not strong enough, hating is a better word; after spending years hating Aline, he starts to unwind when he realizes that Aline never married or slept with anyone. This sends his plan to “break her” out the window. Aline on the other hand, doesn’t mind McKenna’s efforts at hurting her. In fact, she welcomes them because they allow her to feel after years of being numb. This entire book had me screaming “Just say it!” It was like McKenna and Aline decided to be stubborn and thick-headed at the exact same time. And this is what created the tension throughout the novel. All of these scenes led up to an amazing tear-filled ending that any fan of romance will LOVE. 

This novel deals mostly with Aline and McKenna’s story but it also includes Livia, Aline’s sister, and Mr. Shaw’s, McKenna’s business partner, story. This one was also cute. Of course, not as much drama as the main love story, but still a bit dramatic.
For a historical romance, this was fantastic. It was an emotional, film-worthy story that will have you rushing to the bookstore wanting more of this series.

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Again the Magic (Wallflowers, #0.5)

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Book Review: Shadow Fall by Erin Kellison

7938254Title: Shadow Fall
Author: Erin Kellison
Series: Shadow #2
ISBN: 9780505528308
Publisher: Leisure Books
Pub. Date: July 2010
Source: Publisher
Genre: Paranormal Romance / Fantasy
Pages: 322
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads: Sacrifice
Custo Santovari accepted pain, blood, even death, to save his best friend. But a man with all his sins just isn’t cut out to be an angel.
Mystery
One moment he’s fleeing Heaven; the next, he’s waking up stark naked in Manhattan. In the middle of a war. Called there by a woman who’s desperately afraid of the dark.
Shadow
It gathers around Annabella as she performs, filled with fantastic images of another world, bringing both a golden hero and a nightmare lover.
Wolf
He pursues her relentlessly, twisting her desires even as she gives herself to the man she loves. Because each of us has a wild side, and Annabella is about to unleash the beast.

 

My Reveries and Ramblings:  If you haven’t read the first book, stop reading now and go read it (Shadowbound).  Now, for those of you who have read Shadow Bound, get ready for a whole dose of action, romance, and suspense. The story begins with Custo in heaven. He’s somehow ended up as an angel, much to his displeasure. Wanting to help and warn Adam of a betrayl, Custo tricks Shadowman into switching places with him. Lost and trying to find his way back to Segue, Custo sees a woman dancing and is drawn to her power, just as the wolf is. Wolf has been hunting Annabelle trying to find a way out of Shadow and into her world. When Custo accidentally lets him into the real world, both his and Annabelle’s worlds are upturned.  My favorite thing about this series is Ms. Kellison’s characters. She doesn’t write her characters in terms of good or bad. Each character has good and bad qualities. Custo is my favorite example of this. He’s not good. And he knows it. At the same time, he’s not evil. Every choice he makes is based off what he can gain. This is true of every character in literature, except that Custo is very selfish. The only times he is not selfish is with Adam and Annabelle. There are so many layers to Custo’s character-I love it!
Annabelle was also different from most heroines. She’s a principle ballerina in her company. Having sacrificed so much and worked so hard, she starts to reap the rewards. However, after Wolf notices her hidden power when she dances, he becomes obsessed. Cue Custo. After he saves Annabelle, she is forced to accept protection from both Custo and the Segue Institute. Throughout the book, Annabelle is torn between her love of dance and her love for Custo. Her journey to find the balance between the two was interesting to read.
I really liked this book, even more than Shadow Bound. I adored Custo and all of his complexities. Wolf is a creepy, perverse, and terrifying villain-which made this book all the more absorbing. This book is very well written, engaging, and so worth reading!

 

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Shadow Fall (Shadow, #2)

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Book Review: Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz

10118172Title: Spellbound
Author: Cara Lynn Shultz
Series: Spellbound #1
ISBN: 9780373210305
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pub. Date: June 2011
Source: NetGalley
Genre: YA Romance/ Paranormal Romance
Pages: 324
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads: What’s a girl to do when meeting The One means she’s cursed to die a horrible death?  Life hasn’t been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Connor, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much. Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she’s irresistibly drawn to—Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight.
But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can’t stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma’s been having the oddest dreams: visions of herself in past lives—visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else.

My Reveries and Ramblings: Oh. My. Goodness. This book seriously surprised me. Going into it, all I knew was that it was a YA paranormal romance. Boy, was I amazed to discover there was so much more. For starters, Cara Lynn Schultz successfully wrote from a teenager’s perspective. I never once cringed at the language used. (Don’t you hate it when a YA author starts throwing around the word “Yo”). Actually, I really enjoyed Emma’s voice. She was nice, funny, and completely relatable. She has insecurities, like every teenager. She worries about her hair, if she will fit in, and what Brendan thinks of her. Also, Emma is not a push over. Especially when it comes to the kids at school who constantly gossip about her. Cue the jerk: Anthony. He just makes Emma’s life a living hell at school (and outside it). At first its just a matter of ego, but it soon turns into something much more dangerous. As the story progresses, Anthony’s darker side surfaces. He is seriously insane. By the end, I was scared of him.

The second thing that literally brought this book up a full kiss was the fact that it a) has a tragic love story for a base; b) involves soul mates; and c) involves past lives/reincarnation. As you know, I love books that contain even just one of those. But this one contained all three! The tragic love story: Emma and Brendan are cursed to fall in love over and over again only to be torn apart by an untimely death. Something is different this time around. They might have a shot at breaking the curse. If they don’t hurry, it could all end, once again.
Poor Emma. In every life she is born poor. This one was especially brutal for her. After her mom and brother die, she lives with her step-father who would rather drink and abuse her then man-up and be a father for her. After getting into a DWI accident with Emma in the car (she gets injured), Emma escapes to her aunt’s home in NYC. Going to the exclusive Vince Academy has Emma feeling even more of an outsider with all the rich students (think Gossip Girl).
Yes, it does have a HEA. But, you know, it was still a lot of fun to read. The ending was suspenseful. The romance was lovely. And Brendan was just soooo cute. You can’t see me, but I’m crossing my fingers hoping there will be a sequel.

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Spellbound (Spellbound, #1)

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Book Review: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker

22238196Title: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker
Author: Leanna Renee Hieber
Series: Strangely Beautiful #1
ISBN: 978-1428511453
Publisher: Leisure Books
Pub. Date: August 2009
Source: Publisher
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Historical Romance/Urban Fantasy
Pages: 322
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads: What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Hidden in the dark heart of Victorian London, the Romanesque school was dreadfully imposing, a veritable fortress, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met its powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadows of the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She saw simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gift. This arched stone doorway was a portal to a new life, to an education far from what could be had at a convent and it was an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  I was shocked! I did not expect to love this book as much as I did. Ms. Hieber captured me in the very first few words. Her world is so gothic and romantic. I just love it! It was like Jane Eyre meets Harry Potter meets Ghostbusters.
The Guard was blessed with powers to rid the civilian population of evil ghosts/spirits and other demons. In order for them to succeed they must work together. As soon as they split, they weaken. Besides ridding the world of evil beings, they are looking for the reincarnation of Persephone, the goddess who gave them their powers. All they were told was that she would be their peer, to look for a doorway, and to be careful of imposters.
When Percy Parker arrives at Athens Academy after leaving the convent that raised her, she is immediately regarded as odd. With her white hair, glowing eyes, and uber-pale skin she has always felt she was different. By covering herself up, she protects herself from the gawking stares of others. That is until she starts spending her nights being tutored by Prof. Rychman, who insists she removes her “barriers.” The first time Alexi, Prof. Rychman, sees Percy without all the scarves and glasses he becomes mesmerized. During the course of their tutoring sessions, Alexi becomes more and more convinced that she is Prophecy. However, the Guard refuses to believe that she is their seventh since she is not a peer but a student. Instead they do everything they can to convince Alexi that the real Prophecy is Miss Lindon. Alexi must choose between the two. The wrong choice could mean the end of the world.
Ms. Hieber’s writing blew me away. I find that most historical romances have great stories, but the writing is weak. That was not the case in this one. When the characters spoke, their word choice as well as their sentence structure was appropriate for the time. I was so happy to not hear the words “yeah” or “Oh my god” or even worse, “buddy.” Nothing ruins a historical romance like 21st c. talk. Ms. Hieber’s Victorian era writing is itself ,enough for an applause. Her word choice and descriptions were just perfect. Seriously, this book could have been written in the Victorian era and there probably wouldn’t have been a difference in word choice or style.
Now onto characters. When we are introduced to Percy Parker, she is scared and alone. Her friends see her as “strangely beautiful” while others avoid her, if not for her strange looks then for the possibility of being mad. When she arrives at Athens Academy, she finds that her professors don’t think she is crazy when she (rarely) talks of seeing visions (or dreams) and speaking to ghosts. One professor in particular finds her fascinating. His name? Professor Alexi Rychman. Before I continue I must say his name bears a striking resemblance to one Alan Richman (aka Professor Severus Snape). After reading about half of the book I found out that Professor Snape was who Ms. Heiber had in mind when writing this character.

tumblr_nyw8l2yylq1ud2p0eo3_500 Alexi is cold, mean, stiff, and lonely. He is hard on Percy and considers her failure to do well in his class a major flaw. However, he falls more and more in love with her over the course of the book. Alexi was so frustrating (and oh so swoon-worthy). Shortly after reading The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, I watched BBC’s North and South. The second Richard Armitage came on screen, I almost fell out of my chair! It was Alexi! This was exactly how I had envisioned my Alexi! This was before I found out that Miss Hieber had actually mentioned him in an interview (at Darkly Reading) as an alternative to Alan Richman (too old now) for Alexi.
The romance was knit with so much sexual tension, you could almost see the sparks. Yet, there was very little kissing. The tension alone just made me want to scream “Get together already!” It was awesome. There was also a few subplot romances going on within the Guard which were equally fun to read. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books to see more of those play out. This book doesn’t really have a cliffhanger. These books are more like Harry Potter where there is a beginning, middle, and end, but there are certain story arcs that span across the whole series. Although I do want to find out what happens with Alexi and Percy. Basically, I love this book. I’ve read it several times since finishing it, stopping every once in a while to daydream about Alexi *sigh*. I love the eeriness of it-very gothic.
If you like: retellings (ancient greek myth of Persephone), Historical romance (Victorian era), Paranormal (ghosts, demons, etc.), Gothic Romance (swoon-worthy hero, eerie qualities), and apocalyptic scenes, then you’ll love this book.

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The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker (Strangely Beautiful, #1)

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